Drought Magnifies water use for NSW businesses
Category: In the News
Your business maybe feeling both a strong commercial and moral pull to address water use now that the magnitude of Sydney's level 2 water restrictions are here. With a forecast of Level 3 Restrictions ahead in the next few months, now is the time to think about your future water saving plans.
Honestly, there is no quick fix to this current situation, but with some clever planning ahead, the future impact of drought on businesses could drastically improve.
Where is your starting point when saving water? The best place to start is measuring water consumption and setting some realistic targets. It's vital to know your starting point and find out how much water you are currently using. Installing a smart water metering system, for example, will help you see where the areas of greatest use are.
Knowing your water costs the next step in understanding measurement, target setting and assessing your water costs. Work out what your potential cost savings may be and the payback period for any capital investment. Grounding a water savings plan on costs, as well as environmental saving, will help gain the buy-in of key stakeholders and improve your property's overall efficiency. Once measurement and targets have been set, you can establish your water-saving plan.
Highest water usage and water loss areas. Here are examples of where high water usage occurs in business and properties; Communal grounds, Swimming pools, Kitchens, Cooling towers, Bathrooms (faulty toilets, inefficient taps), Laundry's, Roof sprinklers, Chicken machine warmers (in supermarkets) and Pipe leaks.
Don't forget your Tenants
A good water savings plan with smart metering can mean great benefits for your tenants too.
- Monitor water consumption and let your tenants only pay for what they use
- Leaks and water loss can be identified quickly, no bill shock
- Peace of mind, catching leaks fast means the less likely hood of property damage
Educate and inspire stakeholders
A key component of a water-saving plan is communication with and the education of staff and or tenants. Implementing simple procedures and setting targets can play a huge role in affecting the mindset of employees when it comes to water consumption. Although this starts at the office, this shift in attitude is soon carried into home-life and in turn, extends to others.
Where water is in short supply, being aware of competing demands for water and availability issues for a local community is vital. Sometimes you have to work with local communities when it comes to water use, rather than taking supplies from them. Get informed about local water issues through talking to local authorities, community and business groups and your staff. Conduct a water use and risk assessment of your property, ask WaterGroup.
Be aware of and as a minimum, adhere to local regulations on water extraction and wastewater disposal. Where standards are low or infrastructure poor, ensure yours are high and join with other businesses and community groups to lobby for better regulation and management.
Going one step further, if you say a hotel in particular in water-stressed areas can involve guests in their water policy. This is most successfully done in properties and places where guests are motivated to learn about the local area and community and are environmentally aware. Initiatives include guest participation in local education or water infrastructure building and running educational tours of innovative water-saving initiatives.
Water security is a key issue for some businesses. Water risk is not only about availability, but there are a host of other concerns such as infrastructure, governance, competing needs and water quality. A variety of tools are available online for companies that wish to take a deeper dive into assessing these risks. You can view some helpful links on the WaterGroup website. Most of these require water sources, annual consumption and discharge rates and the location of the property. From this, they use a variety of data-sets to assess water risk. So whilst some effort would be required to gather data, the benefit is a clear picture to inform planning and investment going forward. The choice of tool will depend on the needs of the individual company so it is recommended to try these out.
Water for Charity
Besides the potential for an individual property to educate immediate stakeholders about water issues, many companies choose to interact and support broader water charity and conservation efforts. Larger businesses may set up their water conservation groups, or become a primary sponsor of an existing one. Here are a few local ones we like Water Aid and Water.Org